Caption: FDB chief executive officer Ratu Deve Toganivalu pins the Head Boy’s badge to SMC 2013 Head Boy Mohammed Karim.
Peace, mercy and blessings be upon you from Allah.
Honourable trustees and members of the school board;
Parents and guardians, friends, teachers, students, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Let me first say what an honour it is for me to be here this morning as chief guest for your annual prefects’ induction ceremony.
As I look around me I see our future and I am heartened by the limitless possibilities that lie ahead. While I look with optimism to the future, I am also cautious for it for many reasons, not the least of which is a planet struggling to cope with the effects of climate change, the changing face of poverty and a generation so captivated with the workings of technology that they are gradually losing their ability to think on their feet.
I come from a different time, a generation where we didn’t have things like Xbox, mobile phones and computers. Our idea of fun was running a discarded car tyre with two sticks as our qiqi or wheel down the road in a race, a telephone was a communication instrument that only older people in the house used and writing letters or school assignments was done by hand, with very little room for error or you’d find yourself rewriting pages endlessly!
I know it sounds like life was tedious and while that may well be from your point of view, one thing it never was, was boring. Because we never had electronic gadgets to occupy us, we were always inventing and creating games to amuse ourselves. These games not only tested our abilities to improvise and be creative, but it also kept our bodies in constant motion – healthy bodies, healthy minds.
Planning how we would structure our essays also helped save time when it came to writing them because the luxury of cutting and pasting or delete buttons was non-existent. These sorts of life skills that we learnt very early on, helped carry us through life and what we lacked by way of formal qualifications we more than made up for with lateral thinking – I think you may know it as common sense. If we couldn’t find a job, we’d start a business for ourselves and earn a living from it.
The reason why I share this with you is simply as an illustration of how my generation survived the realities of adulthood. As young people on the verge of adulthood, the reality that awaits you when you leave school is stark. Formal jobs in the market are shrinking and those jobs that are available are competed for by highly qualified individuals. As an employer, I see people with Masters degrees applying for jobs that are just a step above entry level positions. In my days as a much younger man, the Mastersdegree holder would be running the company or starting his own company.
In the words of American social writer and philosopher Eric Hoffer: “In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.” The long and short of it is that don’t think the world owes you a favour, because if you do, you will be very disappointed. Don’t wait for things to be given to you, you go out there and get it for yourself. Think on your feet, better still start thinking for yourselves.
As the head of an institution that is responsible for providing development financing, I am concerned about the future if we do not continue to cultivate a generation that is willing to take risks and step outside the boundaries of convention and I look to our Money Smart and Invest Smart programmes to help make that change.
Since its commencement in 2007, we have seen some 96,000 students go through Money Smart and another 28,000 go through Invest Smart since it was introduced in 2011. Many of you would have come through the Money Smart and Invest Smart programmes offered through your Commercial Studies curriculum. The Fiji Development Bank started out Money Smart with the Ministry of Education in 2007 when we found that it was very difficult to engender financial literacy in our clients. Getting them to understand the basics of good financial management like budgeting, planning and savings was a lesson perhaps best suited to the younger generation.
Invest Smart was designed to help students learn about opportunities for investment and ways in which savings can be invested to generate a return. Simple economics demands that savings should equal investments. If you do not invest your savings into activities that can generate a return, then you are not doing yourself any favours by letting the money sit idle.
I am pleased that Money Smart helped create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and income generation. Invest Smart on the other hand helped expand students’ financial literacy by introducing simple ways in which their savings could be invested for a nominal or modest returns. This is exactly the antidote to growing unemployment and the disaffection that is so common in young people.
I would encourage you to take the lessons learnt with Money and Invest Smart with you throughout life and apply them in the management of your personal and business finances when the time comes. This is not only about taking responsibility for yourselves but also demonstrating independent thinking and leadership amongst your peers.
Today’s induction ceremony is to honour a select group of students as prefects for the year. Your teachers have seen your attitude, demeanor and scholastic achievements and agreed that you should be given a leadership role amongst your peers. Being given this recognition and trust over others is not a responsibility that one should take lightly. Such trust should never be abused, instead it should be channeled to engage, motivate and inspire those you are responsible for; to be the best they can be academically as well as at a personal level.
In the words of renowned management specialist Peter Drucker: “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”
I wish you all well in your new roles and trust that you will carry out your responsibilities throughout the year with diligence, firmness and compassion when the occasion calls for it.
Thank you once again for the invitation to be your chief guest. I wish each and every one of you my very best wishes for 2013.